On August 5 2019 the Facebook page “Adrienne Bell for Congress” shared the following image without a description, which appeared to show a black man handcuffed and attached to a leash held by a white police officer who was leading him down a street:
In under 24 hours the image was shared more than 50,000 times, but the lack of description led to confusion over its origin.
In a separate August 5 2019 post, the page thanked law enforcement in Galveston, Texas for responding to the controversy:
In the post, the handcuffed man was referenced as a “Mr. Neely.” Numerous news articles referenced the arrest of a Donald Neely, matching the description of the image; the Houston Chronicle reported on August 6 2019:
Galveston police are apologizing after a dramatic photo circulated online showing horse-mounted officers leading a handcuffed man of color by what appears to be a rope.
Police issued a press release about the photo on Monday, confirming that horse-mounted officers had “clipped” a “line” to a man’s handcuffs after he was arrested [on August 3 2019] on a criminal trespassing charge.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale also issued a statement [August 5 2019] in the press release. He apologized to the man, Donald Neely, 43, who had been arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge.
“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” he said in the statement. “Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest.”
WSB-TV quoted Hale, who indicated that the manner of restraint was typically used in crowd control scenarios. Hale said he felt its application in the photograph was unwarranted:
According to police, a unit the officers called to transport Neely was not available, so the officers chose to walk the man across a Galveston intersection where mounted units were staging, according to the Daily News.
Hale told the newspaper the technique is usually used when extracting people from large crowds.
“In my opinion, quite frankly, I think my guys showed some poor judgment in this scenario,” Hale told the Daily News. “It wasn’t a crowd-control scenario or anything like that. They should have waited on a unit.”
According to multiple reports and police in Galveston, the photograph is authentic and unaltered. It shows the August 3 2019 arrest of Donald Neely, a 43-year-old black man, in Galveston, Texas. Hale confirmed that the manner of restraint was typically used in different scenarios, and that “the department will immediately do away with the procedure.”